Welcome Delwyn. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an ex-Navy, ex-Arts Student, ex-TAFE teacher who finally found a home in the written word and the endless scope of my imagination. I live on the glorious south-east coast of Australia and while I’m not much of a football fan (in any code) I’m a complete cricket tragic. I’ve signed a six-novella deal with Ellora’s Cave under the pen name DJ Michaels (release dates to be advised) and I write for Momentum as Delwyn Jenkins (yes, that is my real name). My debut novel ‘Called By Fire’ is being released today.
Congratulations on your debut!
Do you have a passion other than writing? Please tell us about it.
I’ve always been curvy and like most women I have body issues – so can you imagine my resistance when a friend of mine invited me to a Bellydancing workshop? No and hell no. That was so not my thing. But in her gentle way she kept at me and I finally caved under the pressure. So off we went, her with an eight week beginner course under her belt (so to speak) and me a total virgin.
We got to the hall and there were about sixty women there ranging in age from 12 to 80 – and ranging in shape from tall, short, slender, curvy and everything in between. The teacher introduced herself, she put the music on, and in we jumped.
And the most amazing thing happened. As I cautiously scanned the room I realized there wasn’t one woman who didn’t look beautiful. There’s something about the grace and sensuality of Bellydancing that taps into something sacred and ancient inside a women. That four hour workshop was a revelation for me.
So I enrolled in a beginners class, bought a jingly belt, and threw caution (and my self-consciousness) to the wind. That was over fifteen years ago.
At the beginning I dipped in and out of Bellydancing, but in the last ten years I’ve been dancing almost weekly. I’ve met some generous and inspiring women, learned from some great teachers, and danced in venues so many and varied they’re too long to list.
About seven years ago I was approached to teach a class at my local community centre and I grabbed that opportunity with both hands. Teaching and Bellydancing are two of my passions (apart from writing of course!) and it’s such a joy to be able to mesh those two things together.
I do my own choreography for the most part, select the music, and decide if we’re going to use props or not (like veils or zils – little brass finger cymbals). I’m the one people approach for public appearances and I help my girls decide what numbers to perform and strategise over costume. I try to make the process as collaborative as possible. Bellydancing is a communal art form, and it’s important to me that my students feel ownership over their dances and our troupe (we’re called Baybellies because we live near Cario Bay).
My favourite aspect of teaching Bellydance, the thing that fills up my soul, is the joy my students get when the penny drops. I see them struggling to conquer a move, or to learn a tricky piece of choreography, and when it falls into place (as it inevitably does) the spark of triumph is something to behold.
I also love the transformative effect of Bellydancing. It can take a woman of any shape and confidence level and metamorphosise her into a beautiful, sensual dancer. It flips some switch that just lights a woman up from the inside out.
I once had a student who was so shy and self-conscious she wouldn’t even let me look at her in class (which made her hard to teach) but over time she gained confidence. A year or so after she began dancing we performed at a Diwali Festival (the Indian Festival of Light) with an audience of 300 people. Not only did my shy student cope with that quite happily – she was the first one on the dance floor when the DJ kicked of the free dance. It was one of the proudest teaching moments I had.
Wow, what an amazing passion, Delwyn. I can hear your enthusiasm shining through – I reckon you’d be a great teacher!
Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. I wish you all the best for your debut ‘Called By Fire’.